News / Arts & Entertainment

    March 20 Marks International Day of Happiness

    File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
    File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
    Faiza Elmasry
    In the Kingdom of Bhutan, the measure of the quality of life is expressed as the GNH: the gross national happiness. In 2012, the tiny Himalayan nation persuaded the U.N. General Assembly to establish the International Day of Happiness. It is a formal opportunity to consider what makes us happy.

    The emotion is so important to our well-being that America's founding fathers considered the pursuit of happiness to be a God-given right.

    What is happiness? We know it when we feel it, but there is no simple way to define it, says Joseph Panetta, spokesman for Live Happy magazine. However, he adds, there are certain components to happiness.

    “Those things include positive relationships, a positive outlook," he said. "They include engagement, being engaged in your community and the things that are going on around you...Meaning is probably the most important thing. When someone feels that what they’re doing has a real meaning behind it, that’s greater than themselves, they gain a much more positive feeling from doing it.”

    Being happy, he says, is essential for our health.

    “We know from a scientific perspective that human beings are hardwired to perform their best when happy," he said. "People with positive and optimistic mindset earn higher incomes, they set and achieve more aggressive goals, have less stress. They are more energetic. They also recover from illnesses faster and, interestingly, they live longer.”

    Filmmaker Adam Shell considers himself a happy person.

    “I’ve always had a high baseline for happiness and my default goes back to happy and content," Shell said. "I like to laugh a lot and for me that’s one of my priorities in life.”

    Shell has traveled across America, searching for genuinely happy people for his documentary, Pursuing Happiness.

    “What we did is just reached out to everybody we knew along that route and said, ‘Who’s the happiest person you know?' And we got amazing responses," he said.

    They found more than 360 happy people.

    “We’ve interviewed people like in their 90s; we actually have a woman who is 104. We’ve also interviewed people who are two, barely able to talk but they have a perspective on happiness, and everything in between.”

    Shell says those people didn’t let life’s challenges take away their happiness.

    “There is this one gentleman who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio," Shell said. "He lost both his hands from elbow down in an electrical accident almost 25 years ago. Then, he lost his wife to cancer and had to raise his daughter on his own. This is a guy who it seems like everything that could go wrong in his life was going wrong. The entire time he was going through this, he maintained such high standards of attitude and emotion. He was always happy. He was always cracking jokes and seeing the lighter side of life.”

    People, he says, are not happy because they are successful; they succeed because they are happy.

    “Life is difficult in any way you slice it, no matter where you live, how you live," Shell said. "And I think it’s all about attitude. It’s how you look at the world. And when something bad happens, yeah you have to go through that; the negative emotions, the fear, the loss and the pain. None of the people we’ve interviewed has denied those emotions, but it's how you turn those around and saying, 'OK, I went through that, that happened, now want to get back to me. Now I get back to the way I want to be in life.'” 

    Shell will screen segments from his documentary in New York on March 20, the International Day of Happiness, to encourage people to focus on what makes them happy.

    That is also the goal behind the “Acts of Happiness" campaign by Live Happy magazine, says Joseph Panetta.

    “The Acts of Happiness campaign will actually bring walls of happiness to major metropolitan cities all across the country. And these walls of happiness are meant for people to go there and write on them their acts of happiness, what they do to share and spread happiness in the world," Panetta said. "Happiness grows when you share it, when you spread it. If it’s not a city where there is a wall located, they can go to the website; actsofhappiness.org, there is a virtual wall and they can share and celebrate their acts of happiness.”

    After all, he says, happiness is contagious, and you can celebrate it every day of the year.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.

    New in Music Alley

    Beyond Category: Arturo Sandovali
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 02, 2016 3:53 PM
    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.

    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.